07.07.09 11:35 Age: 3 yrs

Mid-term review points to signs of growing ecumenical collaboration


At the third meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) between Christian World Communions (CWCs) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), the agenda focused on a mid-term review of the work accomplished so far in this growing ecumenical partnership. The 14-member commission also looked toward continued collaboration in the future. 


In its review of cooperation already undertaken the group affirmed the joint collaboration between the CWCs and WCC toward the one ecumenical movement. The existing cooperation includes work on an Intra-Christian Consultation on Christian self-understanding in relation to Islam, the continuing discussion about an "expanded assembly of the WCC" by the Assembly Discernment Committee, the Global Christian Forum, the Continuation Committee on Ecumenism in the 21st Century and a report from the Forum on Bilateral Dialogues.


In the current review process the JCC identified four foundational learnings:

  • The primary actors in the ecumenical movement are and must be the churches.
  • In recent years there has been genuine movement between CWCs and the WCC from a relationship of competition to that of collaboration.
  • Ecumenical cooperation is built upon and sustained by deepening personal friendships and not simply the actions or activities undertaken by organizations.
  • The common goal of the ecumenical movement in its diverse institutional expressions, both in conciliar and confessional bodies, is the search for the visible unity of the church for the sake of God's mission in the world.   

A new area of conversation taken up at this meeting was to explore the possibilities for concrete cooperation on ecumenical peace initiatives, specifically in light of the upcoming International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in May 2011 in Jamaica.


A reflection prepared by Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the Vatican, was affirmed by the full membership of the JCC when he noted, "we have learned that the WCC and the CWCs need each other... perhaps we have reached a new platform: conciliar and confessional ecumenism humbly acknowledging each other and ready to sustain each other."


In considering the work of the JCC over these past years, the Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, stated, "we have come a long way in affirming Christian unity as both a common gift and a common task. The prayers we have been offering are being realized."


In an opening statement to the meeting JCC co-moderator Bishop Nareg Alemezian (Armenian Apostolic Church, Holy See of Cilicia) said, "I am encouraged that we take the opportunity to strengthen cooperation between the WCC and Christian World Communions towards the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation. Coming from the war-torn Middle East, peace is not only dear to my heart but it is a daily existential longing of all the churches."


In his opening remarks co-moderator Rev. Dr Robert Welsh (general secretary of the Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council) challenged the group by noting, "The core of our work is a spiritual and theological challenge, not just something we do because of an Assembly mandate of the WCC or an action of the Annual Meeting of Secretaries of CWCs. And this will ultimately lead us to confession and repentance."


The next meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission will take place in Geneva on 25-26 May 2010.


More information on the Joint Consultative Commission